Jesus Christ was a brilliant, mind-boggling teacher whose lessons, insight, and wisdom left even erudite scholars awestruck. And yet there is no feast of the Sacred Mind.
What the Church celebrates instead is the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Which, right from the get-go, reveals something to us: that what really matters in life is not what we do with our brain, but with our heart. The anonymous English author of The Cloud of Unknowing (14th century) writes: "No one can fully comprehend the uncreated God with his knowledge; but each one, in a different way, can grasp him fully through love. Truly this is the unending miracle of love: that one loving person, through his love, can embrace God, whose being fills and transcends the entire creation."
The mystery of the Sacred Heart is one of supreme mercy: Jesus gives us his own love so that we in turn can love God the way God deserves.
Honoring this mystery means, first of all, being ever open to receiving Jesus' love. We know how much we languish when lacking even a little human love. As the Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper observed, "What we need over and above sheer existence is to be loved by another person. Being created by God actually does not suffice, it would seem; the fact of creation needs continuation and perfection by the creative power of human love."
And how the experience of selfless human love leads us swiftly into the love of God. Just reflect on the story of Saint Josephine Bakhita. When but a girl in Sudan, she was abducted by slave traders who brutalized and tortured her. However, thanks to the kindness and mercy of Christians she encountered, Josephine found a new and lasting home in a convent of the Canossian sisters. And there she said, "I am definitively loved and, whatever happens to me, I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good."
The mystery of the Sacred Heart reassures us that our heart is made for his heart. Even if we have not suffered ordeals like those of Saint Josephine Bakhita, we go through torments and agonies of our own that leave us wondering if we will ever find love. Or, rather, if love will ever find us. The triumph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that it loves in us all the things we find most unlovable about ourselves.
The Jesuit poet and priest Gerard Manley Hopkins, contemplating the Sacred Heart, spoke of "the thoughts of the mind that vessel seems to harbor and the feelings of the soul to which it beats." Those thoughts and feelings are of us when we feel most alone, inadequate, and worthless to the world.
Saint John Paul II, in one of his plays, voices the angst that many of us feel: "The Son [of God]... is the living denial of all loneliness. If I knew how to immerse myself in him, if I knew how to implant myself in him, I would find in myself the Love that fills him." The Church's celebration of the Sacred Heart gives us a way to immerse ourselves, to implant ourselves in Jesus, and so partake of the love that fills him.
The divine heartbeat
The mystic Caryll Houselander once remarked: "The ultimate miracle of divine love is this, that the life of the risen Lord is given to us to give to one another. It is given to us through our own human loves."
We celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus so that we will never forget or betray Love.
During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Heart of Christ is calling us to be people of heroic, prolific charity. There are so many people hurting, so many alone and confused, so many paralyzed by fear. The crucified Jesus allows his side to be pierced so that we can see the Sacred Heart bleeding for us within him, and lay hold of that love to help bear one another's burdens.
"God has not created us for human loving," wrote Servant of God Madeleine Delbrêl, "but for that eternal awesome love with which he loves everything that he has ever created. If you forget Love you make yourself absurd; if you betray Love you become monstrous. Love is our life becoming eternal life."
We celebrate the Sacred Heart of Jesus so that we will never forget or betray Love. In all our thoughts, words, and actions, like Jesus, we want to be all heart! We take as our charge the words of Jesuit Father Alfred Delp, "Our hearts must become strong to make the divine heartbeat into the law of life again."
Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. "Jubilee Year of Mercy: The Mercy of the Sacred Heart." lead editorial from Magnificat (June, 2016).
Reprinted with permission of Magnificat.
Father Peter John Cameron, O.P. is the Director of Formation for Hard as Nails Ministries and the founding editor-in-chief of Magnificat. He is also a playwright and director, the author of more than a dozen plays and many books including: Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living our Lady's Graces, Made for Love, Loved by God, Praying with Saint Paul: Daily Reflections on the Letters of the Apostle Paul, Jesus, Present Before Me: Meditations for Eucharistic Adoration, and Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI.Copyright © 2016 Magnificat
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